Articles | Volume 14, issue 13
Research article
03 Jul 2014
Research article |  | 03 Jul 2014

Short vertical-wavelength inertia-gravity waves generated by a jet–front system at Arctic latitudes – VHF radar, radiosondes and numerical modelling

A. Réchou, S. Kirkwood, J. Arnault, and P. Dalin

Abstract. Inertia-gravity waves with very short vertical wavelength (λz≤1000 m) are a very common feature of the lowermost stratosphere as observed by the 52 MHz radar ESRAD (Esrange MST radar) in northern Scandinavia (67.88° N, 21.10° E). The waves are seen most clearly in radar-derived profiles of buoyancy frequency (N). Here, we present a case study of typical waves from 21 February to 22 February 2007. Good agreement between N2 derived from radiosondes and by radar shows the validity of the radar determination of N2. Large-amplitude wave signatures in N2 are clearly observed by the radar and the radiosondes in the lowermost stratosphere, from 9 km to 14–16 km height. Vertical profiles of horizontal wind components and potential temperature from the radiosondes show the same waves. Mesoscale simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model are carried out to complement the analysis of the waves. Good agreement between the radar and radiosonde measurements and the model (except for the wave amplitude) shows that the model gives realistic results and that the waves are closely associated to the upper-level front in an upper-troposphere jet–front system. Hodographs of the wind fluctuations from the radiosondes and model data show that the waves propagate upward in the lower stratosphere confirming that the origin of the waves is in the troposphere. The observations and modelling all indicate vertical wavelengths of 700 ± 200 m. The radiosonde hodograms indicate horizontal wavelengths between 40 and 110 km and intrinsic periods between 6 and 9 h. The wave amplitudes indicated by the model are however an order of magnitude less than in the observations. Finally, we show that the profiles of N2 measured by the radar can be used to estimate wave amplitudes, horizontal wavelengths, intrinsic periods and momentum fluxes which are consistent with the estimates from the radiosondes.

Final-revised paper